Accessibility of the subliminal mind: Transcendence vs. immanence [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 38 (3-4):143-164 (2005)
It has long been taken for granted in modern psychology that access to the unconscious is indirectly gained through the interpretation of a trained psychoanalyst, evident in theories of Freud, Jung and others. However, my essay problematizes this very indirectness of access by bringing in a Yogācāra Buddhist formulation of the subliminal mind that offers a direct access. By probing into the philosophical significance of the subliminal mind along the bias of its access, I will argue that the different views of the subliminal consciousness correspond to different models of “transcendence” and “immanence.” We will see that the involvement of the transcendence principle in Freud’s and Jung’s conceptualizations of the unconscious results in the denial of direct access to the unconscious; only the Buddhist immanence-based formulation provides direct access. This East-West comparative approach is an attempt to examine how different models of reasoning, vis-à-vis transcendence and immanence, can lead to drastically different theories as well as the practices they instruct.
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